Newspaper article News Sentinel

Concerns Raised about Bias Reporting System

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Concerns Raised about Bias Reporting System

Article excerpt

A process to report bias incidents on the University of Tennessee campus was one of multiple aspects of the university's diversity website that a Knoxville lawmaker took issue with during a joint House education committee hearing on Wednesday.

"Stop Bias" is a reporting and response process for students, faculty, staff and visitors to report such incidents and have them investigated by UT.

UT President Joe DiPietro told committee members incidents that have occurred on UT campuses, such as bananas being thrown at black students or cotton balls on the lawn of a black cultural center, are more than offensive and can demoralize members of the UT community and make them fear for their safety. He said students should enjoy a safe "environment that does not condone bias or prejudice."

But those types of incidents are extreme, state Rep. Roger Kane countered.

"That's just in-your-face bias, but bias can be so subtle," the Knoxville Republican said. "I'm just hoping we're not setting up a website to complain about every social ill."

Kane added that omitting Christian and Jewish student organizations from the diversity website also is a form of bias.

According to UT, there have been 22 bias reports in the 2015-16 academic year. Seven were about race; five about sexual orientation; three regarding gender; two about religion; two about race and sexual orientation; and one was regarding religion and sexual orientation. …

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